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Exporter of UK e-scrap to serve time

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A U.K. businessman has been sent to jail for exporting e-scrap to Africa.

Joe Benson, an Essex-based e-scrap processor and CEO of BJ Electronics, was sentenced to serve 16 months in jail following an investigation by the Environment Agency (EA).

Between September 2012 and April 2013, EA intercepted four containers headed for several African countries including Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The containers were said to contain about 50 tons of scrap electronics and electrical equipment collected through municipal collection programs in and around London. According to EA, they had not been properly tested beforehand to verify whether they needed to be responsibly recycled or could be reused.

According to electronics reuse advocate and founder of of the World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Association (WR3A), Robin Ingenthron, much of the electronics in the intercepted containers were in working condition, and he claims to have over 200 documents individually itemizing reuse-ready items in various containers sent by Benson over the years.

Ingenthron, who has been referring to the scrap processor as “Hurricane” Joe Benson (in reference to the boxer “Hurricane” Ruben Carter, who was wrongly imprisoned and the inspiration of a famed Bob Dylan protest song), says that an earlier study also pointed out that Benson, in fact, has been shipping highly reusable material.

“An UNEP study found a 91 percent reuse rate from the televisions from Joe Benson’s containers — a number actually higher than brand new products sold in Ghana and Nigeria,” Ingenthron said.

“‘Hurricane’ Joe Benson’s loads are completely documented and researched, and we believe he is becoming a cause célèbre of reuse,” Ingenthron added.

Before pleading guilty to the new charges, Benson had been vigorously fighting a separate 2011 conviction alleging he had illegally shipped e-scrap to Nigeria.

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